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Operational art in the 1962 Sino Indian War

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Technical Report,01 Jun 2015,01 May 2016

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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Territorial disputes have played a major role in the relationship between India and China since the formation of both nationalist governments in 1947 and 1949 respectively. The incorporation of Tibet into the Peoples Republic of China and unclear borderlines established by the British Empire during their colonization of India set the stage for conflict between the two countries. This conflict culminated in the Sino-Indian War of 1962. Chinas resulting victory provides an opportunity to study how they achieved success through the lens of operational art. This study explores the nature of Chinese objectives from policy down to the tactical level and the relationship between these objectives. It also discovers what process, if any, the Chinese used to derive complementary objectives, and finally, whether their victory was the result of this process or other circumstances. This study addresses six structured, focused questions in an attempt to establish a clear linkage between political and military objectives, and whether the Peoples Liberation Army of China arranged their operations in time, space, and purpose to achieve these objectives. This study produced valuable insight into the theory of operational art and provided an opportunity for greater understanding of the art of translating strategic objectives into the arrangement of tactical actions aimed at a common purpose. In the end, Chinese military commanders successfully executed operational art, merging political and military considerations to achieve an outcome that left China in an enhanced bargaining position against India. Their selective application of military force against limited objectives destroyed the image of India as a rising Asian power and exposed many of its strategic shortcomings.

Subject Categories:

  • Sociology and Law
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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